There is a huge opportunity still to be captured from the application of programmatic TV to linear television.  However, industry alignment around technology and data definitions would rapidly accelerate value creation for all the stakeholders.

That’s the view of Mark Frain, Chief Sales & Marketing Officer at MCN.

We spoke to Frain about the development of programmatic television in Australia about how the industry might collaborate to accelerate the uptake of programmatic TV, and what the benefits are to all the stakeholders in the ecosystem.

Frain says that as TV revenues are often realised in digital business units, television’s actual share is probably 10 to 15 per cent larger than it gets credit for.

We asked him, what would need to change for programmatic television to develop faster down under?

“First of all, it is important to recognise there are already various programmatic TV providers in the industry. The challenge, however is that each of those players has developed an offering that is slightly different.

Mark Frain

“To really advance Programmatic TV growth at speed, the market would be best served by creating a common platform that sits in the middle and brings everything together, irrespective of the systems or capabilities of the individual publisher. From a buy-side perspective, you would benefit greatly from transacting it all through one system.”

Equally critical, according to Frain, is the treatment of data. “We all need to define the segments through one data set. When the four or five networks go to market with four or five slightly different definitions of premium car buyers, for instance, we are just making it harder for buyers. That’s one of TV’s greatest challenges overall and programmatic TV provides an opportunity to address this issue.”

The good news, he says, is that TV as a category has woken up to the reality that everyone needs to work together to the data measurement and technology issues.

“I think in the next 12 months you will see both announcements and action from various players within the industry. If we build the capability, align the technology and we operate off a unified data set, we can expect to see exponential growth in this area moving forward.”

Stakeholder benefits

Each of the stakeholders in the television advertising ecosystem is strongly vested in the solution, as each has significant value they can capture from progress on the programmatic front.

First of all, for both buyer and seller there are efficiencies to be gained from automating the workflow. And unlike traditional programmatic display, which tends to commoditise outcomes, programmatic TV helps media companies make better to use of their inventory not just in terms of yield management, but critically in delivering for better outcomes for clients through a much smarter application of data analytics.

For agencies, programmatic also overcomes one of the biggest bugbears in TV – dealing with the downstream consequences of undelivered campaign inventory. By eliminating all the problems and inefficiencies of make good ads and negotiated bonus spots, the transactional pain between buyer and seller can be lessened. This gives the buyer greater assurance and confidence.

Brands, meanwhile win from the smarter application of data. “For instance, we have been able to help clients by matching set-top box data with real-time consumer spending information.”

Programmatic TV also lets brands buy and target television advertising beyond the traditional age and gender metrics of the Nielsen panel based model.

We also asked Frain to describe the differences between the Australian market and the experience in other parts of the world.

While Australia is typically seen as a technology taker in other parts of the tech sector, it is a leader in some respects in the programmatic TV world.

“On the linear broadcast front we are still largely driving that agenda from a global perspective,” he said. “In the US we have seen a big shift through dish networks and AT&T and they are now operating a very similar model to that which we built here through the set-top box data.”

One area where Australia can learn from the US concerns cooperation. “In the last 18 months, Open AP has launched in the US, offering an amalgamation of inventory from some of the major broadcasters. They have come together to define segmentation they can all use across all of their networks to have one kind of currency.”

Andrew Birmingham is the director of the Which-50 Digital Intelligence Unit of which MCN is a member. DIU members provide their insights and expertise for the benefit of our readers. Membership fees apply.

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